Try Yoga to Ease the Pain of Tech Neck
Over the past 10+ years, technology has revolutionized the way we do business, interact with news, stay connected with friends and family and even track our health and fitness. Very few of us go anywhere without a smart phone in hand.
There is, however, a down side to the convenience of technology, “Tech neck” is pain directly attributed to technology use. The vast majority of us spend our days in a shoulders-hunched, neck-craned-forward posture working on computers or bent over smart phones. Constant hunching causes imbalances in the muscles of the neck, shoulders and back that leads to neck pain. If left unchecked over time it can lead to serious issues including chronic neck pain and rotator cuff problems.
Fear not, the damage done does not have to be permanent. You can take steps now to combat tech neck.
Kathy Salvo, Director of Evolve Yoga at Chelsea Piers, recommends taking breaks throughout your day to look up from your devices as well as looking into yoga 3 times per week to help ease your pain. “You want to think about creating more space and working on righting the imbalances rather than stretching,” says Salvo. “Yoga poses are a great way to do that.”
No time to get to a yoga class? Salvo recommends incorporating the following sequence of poses into your week:
Cat & Cow Pose:
Start on your hands and knees in a "tabletop" (all fours) position. Make sure your knees are set directly below your hips and your wrists, elbows and shoulders are in line and perpendicular to the floor. Center your head in a neutral position, eyes looking at the floor. As you exhale, round your spine toward the ceiling, making sure to keep your shoulders and knees in position. Release your head toward the floor, but don't force your chin to your chest. As you exhale, round your spine toward the ceiling, making sure to keep your shoulders and knees in position. Release your head toward the floor, but don't force your chin to your chest “Cat”. Coming back to table top or neutral position you would then inhale, lift your sitting bones and chest toward the ceiling, allowing your belly to sink toward the floor. Lift your head to look straight forward “Cow” Return to table top after each round.
Standing Forward Bend:
Stand tall with feet hip-width apart. Interlace fingers behind back, pressing palms together and straightening arms behind you. (If your shoulders are very tight, your palms may not touch; the more you stretch, the easier it will be to press them together, which helps deepen the opening in your shoulders.) Inhale, taking your gaze to the ceiling and bending backwards slightly. Exhale, folding forward at the hips, bringing the crown of your head towards the floor. Allow your hands to fall forward, keeping arms straight, rinsing out your shoulders. Breathe deeply, trying to keep palms together and allowing hands to fall forward a little bit more with each exhale. Hold for 5 to 10 breaths. Slowly roll back up to standing.
Stand with your feet 3–4 feet apart, the back foot turned out 45–90 degrees; find heel-to-arch alignment between your front and back foot. Raise your arms overhead as you bend the front leg to a 90-degree angle. Your hips will find a slightly angled position as you engage your back leg’s glutes to open the front of your pelvis. As you lower your arms away from the body to shoulder height, feel your shoulder blades draw toward your midline and down your back. This action strengthens the rhomboids and the middle and lower trapezius, as your chest expands forward and opens to stretch the pectoralis major and minor. Imagine pressing the index-finger mounds down against an immovable object as you simultaneously externally rotate the shoulders. Stay here 8–10 breaths; repeat on the other side.
Lie on your back, knees bent and feet flat on floor, arms by your sides. Walk your feet close enough to your butt that you can graze your heel with your longest finger. Inhale, pressing through heels and lifting hips to the sky. Wiggle shoulder blades underneath you and interlace your fingers, elongating arms on the floor and pressing fist toward heels. Breathe deeply, holding the pose for 3 or 4 long breaths. Tuck your chin and slowly lower hips. Repeat 2 to 5 times.
Sit on floor with knees bent, feet flat on floor, palms by sides with fingers facing forward. Inhale, pressing through heels and lifting hips until spine is perpendicular with floor, allowing head to fall back. Continue lifting hips as you breathe deeply, holding for 3 to 5 deep breathes. Repeat 2 or 3 times.